Divorce Divorce Grounds

Divorce Process Part 4: Obtaining the Decree Absolute of Divorce

This is the final part in a Four part review of the divorce process entitled ‘Obtaining the Decree Absolute of Divorce.


The Decree Absolute is the final decree of divorce which ends the marriage. It must be applied for to be granted and will not be automatically issued by the courts. Before it is granted the steps set out in the previous three articles must have been completed to the satisfaction of a District Judge.

The application for a Decree Absolute of Divorce must be made on a special form which can be obtained from the court office.

Once the Decree Absolute of Divorce is granted, copies will be sent to all parties in the proceedings.

The date the marriage comes to an end is the date which is on the Decree Absolute of Divorce. Before this date the parties were still legally married. Once the Decree Absolute is issued, both parties are free to re-marry.

The Petitioner can apply for a Decree Absolute six weeks after the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi of Divorce. However the Respondent cannot apply until 18 weeks after the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi of Divorce.

If the respondent is applying, they will also need to swear a Statement of Truth setting out the reasons why it is the Respondent applying for the Decree Absolute rather than the normal procedure, where the Petitioner applies.

Where there is a delay and neither party to the marriage applies for the Decree Absolute within twelve months after the decree nisi, then whomever is applying for the Decree Absolute will have to give a written explanation to the court, often by filing another Statement of Truth, explaining the reasons for the delay, and confirming that no further children have been born to the parties.


The petitioner can apply for decree absolute anytime from 6 weeks from the date the decree nisi is pronounced. Where the Petitioner applies, the Decree Absolute is usually granted automatically at this stage.

No further court hearings are required and the process is usually done by post only. The Decree Absolute fee is included in the petition fee which was paid at the start of the process. There is no additional fee to pay for a Decree Absolute by the Petitioner at this stage.

Where the petitioner does not apply for decree absolute, the respondent can apply. However; the Respondent cannot apply any earlier than 18 weeks from the date of the pronouncement of the decree Nisi of divorce.

Applications by the Respondent for a Decree Absolute are not automatically granted and will always be considered by a judge, first. This means that a Respondent needs to give reasons to the judge why the application needs to be granted.

Where there is a delay of 12 months or longer from the pronouncement of the decree nisi of divorce to the application for a decree absolute, either party to the marriage can still apply for the decree absolute.

But they must satisfy the judge by way of a statement setting out the reasons for the delay, confirming that they have not been cohabiting with the other party to the marriage for any periods of six months or longer and confirming that no other children have been born, whether or not parented by both parties to the marriage.

Couples should be aware that where there are Financial Remedy proceedings ongoing relating to the finances of the parties after divorce, the court will not normally issue a decree absolute until those proceedings have concluded.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Decree Absolute mean I am divorced?
Yes, this is the final decree of the court in the marriage. Once granted, the parties are free to re-marry.

Do I need to keep the Decree Absolute Certificate?
Yes, this is an important legal document and you will need to present it if you plan to marry again.

It is also often required for other purposes. If you lose it, you can obtain a replacement from the court for a fee.

My Decree Absolute was granted and we agreed finances informally. My ex is backtracking on that agreement, can I apply for Ancillary Relief?
Probably – an application for Ancillary Relief can, in certain circumstances, can still be brought after the marriage has been dissolved. It depends on many factors, including whether you have remarried or are cohabiting with another person. You will need to seek professional legal advice about this from a Solicitor.

My ex and I have reconciled and want to stay together, can we cancel the Decree Absolute?
No,  the divorce is final. If you do wish to remain in a marriage with your ex, then you can remarry them again though.

Is my Decree Absolute of Divorce valid on other countries?

Generally the answer to this is ‘yes’. However; there are certain countries in the world where they will only recognise divorces by nationals of that country which have been obtained through the laws of that country. This is often the case in strict muslim countries. If you have concerns about this you need to obtain specialist legal advice.

I have lost my Decree Absolute – how do I get a replacement? 

Generally for people who divorced in England & Wales we would advise you to contact the court where your divorce was issued. They will provide you with a copy, usually after payment of a small processing fee.

Do I need a Decree Absolute before I remarry?

Oh yes! If you plan to remarry you certainly need to ensure that your previous marriage was legally dissolved with a Decree Absolute. If you don’t have a Decree Absolute yet and you do remarry, you will be committing a criminal offence for which you could easily end up in prison. It would also mean that your new marriage is not valid.

Is there anything I should do after getting my Decree Absolute? 

We strongly advise you to make a new Will after your Decree Absolute is granted. It can lead to all sorts of complications if you die without making a new Will after divorce. Wills are easy to do and a very affordable way of avoiding a lot of potential problems.

Divorce is a potentially complex legal process and you should always ensure that you receive independent legal advice specific to your particular circumstances from a qualified adviser.

Should you have any queries about your own personal circumstances Contact us for guidance and advice relating to your particular circumstances on 020 8401 7352.

The information provided in this article is general information only and it is not intended that you should rely on this information as advice relating to your specific circumstances.

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